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Bottas baffled by lack of pace compared to Hamilton at Spa

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Valtteri Bottas was left baffled by his lack of pace compared to Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton after finishing half a second off the pace in qualifying at Spa on Saturday.

Bottas has trailed Hamilton throughout the Belgian Grand Prix weekend so far, lagging to third place on the grid in qualifying as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel split the Mercedes racers.

The result came as a disappointment to Bottas, who was left seeking answers after failing to get even close to contending for pole at Spa.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pace to fight for the pole today. I’m not sure about the reasons, I’m slightly confused as to why I haven’t been able to get closer,” Bottas said.

“We will need to look for a few more answers in the data. The balance in the car felt good, but I was lacking grip, so I was particularly struggling in the high-speed corners of sector two. I felt a lot more comfortable in the car with high fuel, so that’s good for tomorrow.

“Driving the 2017 car around Spa is mega – it’s so quick, I’ve never experienced anything like it. We are both starting in the top three, so as a team we will still try to achieve our target and that is a one-two.”

The Belgian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.